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Oxford Chinese Dictionary - upcoming interview with Chief Editor
Posted 30 August 2010 - 03:42 PM
Later in the week, at an actual time to be determined, I'm going to be sitting down with Julie Kleeman, one of the two chief editors on the project.
So, I'm looking for questions - if there's anything you'd like to know about the dictionary or the process of putting it together, stick your question in here and I'll make sure to ask as many as I can.
Also, I'm hoping to actually do the interview via posting on here, so anyone online at the time can jump in with their own questions. That's going to depend on scheduling me Julie into the same place at the same time, so it might not be possible - but hopefully, and I'll let you know as and when that will be.
I'm also working on getting a free copy or two from the OUP vaults - if anyone wants one, let us know what you'll do in exchange.
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Posted 30 August 2010 - 06:55 PM
What would I do for a free copy? The medics have told me I have to give that sort of behaviour up! And the Mrs says "Not another freaking dictionary!" At least that is my interpretation of her outburst in some unidentifiable dialect.
Now that would be useful! A Chinese Wife-English / English -Chinese Wife dictionary. If you send me a free dictionary, I promise to write one. Sometime in the next three hundred years.
Posted 30 August 2010 - 07:49 PM
So how can a dictionary help steer Chinese learners of English away from treating English idioms with the reverence they apply to chengyu, while also helping English-learners of Chinese to find when something might best be said in the form of a chengyu?
Obviously, there are limits to what a dictionary can do and experience of the language is essential, but how can a dictionary help with these aesthetic issues?
Posted 30 August 2010 - 09:04 PM
Roddy, I would also like to know:
- if they indicate when the Chinese words began to be used (or at least written down). EDIT: I mean, if they show when a particular usage became current.
- if they plan to release updates in the future
- what they mean by "Chinese". Is the dictionary based on 普通话, with occasional references to usage outside of the mainland? How about 'dialects' within the mainland: would a non-普通话 expression very commonly used in Beijing be included, but not a word commonly used in (say) Chengdu?
- if they felt that everyday language in the mainland has been influenced by the preferred language and syntax of Chinese government officials, via the very heavy play their speeches etc get (more so in the past) across newspapers, radio and TV.
- for dictionaries like this, would you broadly have Chinese speakers doing Chinese to English, and English speakers English to Chinese (or vice versa)? Or is there no such split? And did there seem to be any clear distinction between how the two sets treated their own language (ie more flexible, more prescriptive etc)?
- finally, did they find the distinction between 书面语 and 口语 holds true in the same way for English as it does for Chinese?
Ha, too many questions, sorry!
Posted 30 August 2010 - 09:33 PM
Given the limited space in a single volume bilingual dictionary, I imagine doing the former usually necessitates the latter. Of course, as someone who does research on China, I'd love lengthy linguistic and etymological analyses of many Chinese terms, but I don't expect to find it.
does that come down to whether a foreign-language dictionary's prime function is to explain what a foreign word means, or to suggest its equivalent in your language?
One of the advantages of digital dictionaries is that they don't need to worry about the cost implications of publishing extra information. They can have layers of information for those who want more than a simple translation. Paper dictionaries need to keep everything tight and easily presentable. To put this in context, I hear that the 3rd edition of the Oxford English Dictionary which they've been working on for 21 years will probably never be published in printed form:
(with apologies for linking to the Telegraph)
Posted 31 August 2010 - 12:54 AM
I don't want to get too off-topic here, but just wanted to point out that we discussed this issue before, in the thread below and I think in some other threads I can't find:
While liberally using chengyu in Chinese is a sign of a high-level of education and literacy, the English equivalents are often old-fashioned, hackneyed clichés, which are best avoided as they suggest an inability to an express an idea in an imaginative way.
Chinese style vs. English style
We can take the discussion to the other thread. A short version of my current view is that the counterpart of chengyu's in a European language would be words that are considered to be more sophisticated (used to be called "twenty-dollar words" back in the day) rather than what's called "idioms" in English. The Chinese counter-part to "idioms" in English is more like 俗语 (which can also be more 4 characters long). For instance, "不三不四" is 俗语 and not chengyu. 俗语 are colloquial idioms, whereas chengyu are written, literary idioms.
Posted 31 August 2010 - 09:26 AM
2. What criteria do OUP use in creating example sentences?
3. What was the role (as mentioned on the dictionary's cover) of the Foreign Language Training and Research Press in the development of the dictionary?
Posted 31 August 2010 - 03:26 PM
I could also write a review, but as I'm pretty sure our library will be ordering several copies, you may want to give the free ones to someone else as I would not really need one to write a review
Posted 31 August 2010 - 09:14 PM
Are there any PDFs or even GIFs of sample pages? I haven't been able to find any yet.
Posted 31 August 2010 - 09:25 PM
Posted 31 August 2010 - 09:53 PM
Posted 01 September 2010 - 09:46 AM
Posted 01 September 2010 - 10:10 AM
Given that many in the target market for this new dictionary already have the ABC Dictionary, an obvious question would be what are the benefits of this new dictionary over the ABC Dictionary.
I don't know if it's exactly a given.
I haven't a copy of any of the ABC dictionaries.
But then I haven't bought a Chinese-English dictionary in ages.
I was searching Amazon trying to find scans of pages from the new Oxford dictionary, to see if they have a "look inside" for it, (this was before Roddy put up the pdf) and not knowing the exact title of the new Oxford entered a search for "Chinese English dictionary".
The ABC dictionaries are on the third page at numbers 27 and 30. This is based on relevancy to the search terms not sales rank.
For sales rank, the "Bestsellers in Chinese" under "Any Category > Books > Reference > Dictionaries & Thesauruses > Foreign Language > Chinese (Updated hourly)", the Oxford titles tower above any of the other true dictionaries.
bestsellers in Chinese dictionaries
I guess it's the name recognition factor. The Oxford brand.
They only list 100 books but none of the ABCs are there. But then they have the Integrated Chinese series under "dictionaries & thesauruses". Go figure.
Posted 01 September 2010 - 10:57 AM
What happens to the team who worked on this now? Do you disband and go find other jobs, or does work on the next edition start immediately?
Electronic versions - what are we going to have in terms of desktop, mobile and web versions, will these be Oxford's in-house products or in partnership with the likes of Pleco Software? And if you happen to have any timetables . . .
With electronic versions - we now see with Google and Sougou Pinyin IMEs regular updates of new vocabulary being delivered to our computers automatically. How long until our electronic dictionaries automatically download the latest dictionary entries for us?
Which words do you regret having to leave out?
Are there going to be different mainland / overseas editions - both in terms of content, but also print / paper quality and price?
Posted 01 September 2010 - 12:23 PM
I would be interested in knowing what OUP's criteria were for selecting the EC checkers/editors (& translators), and for that matter, what the criteria were for the CE translators, checkers and editors.
Posted 01 September 2010 - 01:00 PM
These differences between the E-C and C-E entries makes me think that the dictionary might be better for Chinese learners of English than foreign learners of Chinese. A learners of Chinese, I think, would need a lot more examples of how the Chinese words are used, particularly the chengyus. Perhaps Roddy can ask about how the design choice was made.
"blogging = 博客维护" and "歌星 ＝ singing star" seemed flawed.
Posted 01 September 2010 - 02:28 PM
Posted 01 September 2010 - 04:41 PM
1) OUP are clearly focused on the Chinese market for students of English. Fair enough, it's by far the bigger market and OUP need to make money, but disappointing from my point of view, as I need every help possible to re-enforce the correct pronunciation, especially tones.
2) I'd be better off waiting for a digital version, where the problem will doubtless be solved with a click or a hover of the mouse. The Danwei interview suggested that the web version of this dictionary isn't available yet and if you buy the paper version you are just getting access to the old Oxford dictionary.
So that's a question: when will they be updating the web dictionary?
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